Sheri was a smart, ambitious, and energetic executive. She had lifted herself up through many of the barriers that arise in all growing careers, and through many of the barriers  unique to women leaders. How? First, she had the requisite talents and competencies. She brought as much to the table as anyone. Wise superiors and mentors recognized her value and leveraged it. it was win/win. Second, Sheri maintained a can-do attitude. She never said no. It was a great asset. But it almost killed her, and it almost killed her career. She, like most of her colleagues, both male and female, had not recognized how the nature of organizations elicits co-dependent behavior. What is Co-Dependency? The term co-dependency comes from the field of addiction. As professionals were gaining an understanding of the nature of addiction, they came to recognize that people who loved the addict often unwittingly contributed to the…

Here’s a fictional but realistic story that illustrates what coaching for EQ can look like. Jim knew marketing like nobody’s business. Not only did he have a natural flair, he worked hard to master his craft. Promotions followed achievements like night follows day. But the promotion that nearly did him in was the one that gave him a staff to supervise. His company made a classic mistake, i.e., believing that because Jim was technically skilled, he must be competent to supervise others in his area. Sadly for Jim, the skills required to create killer marketing programs are not the skills required to elicit creativity, cooperation, and dedication from others. Jim had never held a leadership position. With no training to guide him, he did what came naturally. For him that was to use a pacesetter style, an unfortunate choice. Pacesetters demand that everyone perform at the leader’s level. Failure to…

In my most recent post, I wrote about how organizations cannot be expected to behave humanely, any more than we would expect a refrigerator or chain saw to behave humanely. Organizations are not humans. However, humane leaders can steer their organizations in humane directions, but only if they can avoid getting caught up in Organization-Think.  Now let’s take it up a notch. Let’s look at meta-organizations, collections of organizations whose leaders and workers share a mental model, largely unconscious, that limits humane behavior.  Let’s call it “Factory-Think.” Imagine that you were a factory owner at the dawn of the Industrial Age.  Your problem: How to create an efficient, cost-effective, profitable way to produce goods. The solution? Piece work. Workers got paid by how many widgets they made in a day or week. To maximize productivity, and to ensure that every widget was like every other widget, steps and processes were…

Thousands of studies demonstrate that leaders with higher EQ are more successful than those with average (or lower) EQ. But I’m not writing about that today. I’ve found myself reflecting on the nature of organizations, thinking about my own experiences with them, experiences that clients who work for them have told me about, and stories my friends and family have related to me. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts about what follows. Think about times when you’ve dealt with a large healthcare organization. Maybe you’ve helped shepherd a loved one through a serious illness. Maybe you yourself were the patient. Did the experience enhance your sense of yourself as a human being? Or did you find yourself feeling like a piece of meat, lost in a maw of processes, procedures, and awful communication, while the people working there did what their organization told them was necessary? Think of the times…

These days, it seems we are often called upon to deal with people whose beliefs may be in strong opposition to ours. A colleague working within a large university-based medical center asked me for a blog piece dealing with this challenge. Like every medical center in the world today, hers is struggling with COVID. Not only because of the overwhelming number of cases their center has to deal with, but also because so many colleagues and patients have differing ideas about COVID, based on different sources of information deemed acceptable to their way of thinking. Pretty much everybody thinks their way of thinking is right, and other people’s views are ridiculous. What to do? Step One – Acceptance of the person, and of our shared human frailty: Approximately 100% of human beings have some beliefs that turn out to be accurate, and other beliefs? Not so much. Humility is a…

A woman with a chef hat and apron, looking very stressed. A metal pie pan is at the bottom left.

All organizations have one or more constrained, or more accurately, constraining resources, resources that limit what can be accomplished. To illustrate, imagine that in a moment of poor impulse control, you agree to bake fourteen cherry pies for a company event. You have lots of cherries, lots of flour, mixing bowls, spoons, an oven that holds seven pies, and one, only ONE, pie pan. That pan is your constrained resource. We often think of constrained resources as tangible. For example, the auto industry is currently in a jam. It can’t get enough computer chips to make cars. Show rooms are nearly empty. Want a car? Expect to wait several months. As Rudyard Kipling said, “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost . . .” But some resources that organizations need are intangible. You can’t see them, but they can…